Ledbetter Dam on Ledbetter Road in Rockingham has a small leak, the Richmond County Emergency Services and North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources announced on Wednesday.
According to Donna Wright, Emergency Services director, Emergency Services received a call concerning water leaking from the dam on Monday.
“After visiting the dam and taking pictures of the leak, this information was provided to the NCDENR,” said Wright. “Representatives from the Fayetteville office met employees of Emergency Services at the dam to inspect the reported leak. After conferring with NCDENR, it was determined this was a level two event. This means while a failure of the dam is not expected immediately, there were concerns the dam could fail in the near future.”
The owners of the dam have been asked by NCDENR to immediately lower the lake levels, hire an engineer to assess the structural integrity of the dam and submit a plan to NCDENR for temporary and permanent repairs to the dam, Wright said.
“The dam will be monitored by Emergency Services (or other designated persons), for any changes to the dam or flow changes during the repairs,” said Wright.
Wright spent Tuesday evening going door to door in the neighborhood closest to the dam, letting residents know about the leak.
Brad Cole, Fayetteville Regional engineer for the Land Quality Section of the NCDENR, said the dam was last inspected in April, and the leak wasn’t there then. However, the leak does show signs of having been there for some time, he said. Cole said this type of leak comes with normal wear and tear on the cement dam.
“In 24 hours we saw a difference,” said Cole about the leak’s water flow. “That means it’s time to take the water level down and see what we can do to fix it.”
Cole said the water level needs to come down to at least five feet below the water surface in order for engineers to safely begin working on the dam. The pressure on the 37-foot dam will go down as the water level is brought down, but Wright wanted to make residents aware that the water level could rise a few feet into backyards, possibly affecting things like personal watercraft or floating docks. Only five or six houses are in the direct flood path, officials said.
“The residents may see workers at the dam,” said Wright. “I wouldn’t be too worried about it.”
This process will take several weeks to complete, said Wright. As information becomes available, Emergency Services will notify the public.
“If you are downstream from the dam and notice the water near your home to be abnormally cloudy or a rapid increase in flow and/or water levels, please notify my office or call 9-1-1,” said Wright. “Should a dam failure occur, our offices will notify citizens of the evacuation and provide the shelter location. If you have any questions you can reach me by calling 910-997-8238.”
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.